While perhaps not the most important symbol in the Vision of the Tree of Life (1 Nephi 8-11), the Iron Rod may be the one that has received the most attention, at least in recent decades[fn1]. But I think I was able to find something that kind of fit with the whole vision instead of just mentioning the Iron Rod. I like this hymn for not just (vaguely perhaps) invoking some of the imagery of the vision, but also for placing an emphasis on the Lord’s role in assisting us.
Hymn of Praise
- Wide is the gate and broad the way
- That leadeth unto death and sin;
- Protect us, Father, night and day
- Lest, thither lured, we venture in.
- Oh, may we make the Lord our friend.
- And choose the narrow path made plain.
- And live for light to comprehend
- How we may life eternal gain.
- Lord, grant us grace that we may cling
- With ardor to the Iron Rod;
- And should the effort suffering bring.
- Still give us strength to honor God.
- Rock of our refuge, hallowed be
- Thy holy name. Thine arm is sure;
- From time to all eternity
- Who trust in Thee may rest secure.
- Our bosom friends may turn aside
- And scorn the paths of truth and right;
- The wicked virtue may deride
- And blackness lend to error’s night.
- But Thou, O God, art still the same;
- Changeless Thy laws, boundless Thy love;
- All truth is written on Thy name,
- All power in earth or heaven above.
by J. C.; from Juvenile Instructor v24 n13, July 1, 1889, p. 320
There are many other works that mention the Iron Rod, including Hymn #274, The Iron Rod (aka To Nephi, Seer of Olden Time), which the lesson mentions as an additional teaching aid because it talks so much about the vision. Hymn #254, True to the Faith, also mentions the Iron Rod, although as an admonition, not as a description of the vision.
I get a kick out of LDS Artist James Christensen’s image, The Iron Rod, which can be seen as part of an interview with him in the periodical Mormon Artist #13, which explains why so many people have trouble holding on to the Iron Rod. It may be possible to somehow display that image as part of the lesson, but care must be made to not violate the copyright law.
I think it is worth mentioning that the Iron Rod symbol is also a part of Richard Poll’s potent Iron Rod/Liahona dichotomy, as explained in his 1967 Dialogue essay, What the Church means to people like me. However, I can’t really figure out any way to work that into this lesson.
[fn1] General Conference talks have mentioned the Iron Rod increasingly in recent decades, 19 times in the 1980s, 23 in the 1990s and 41 times in the 10 years starting in 2000. But before 1980, it was never mentioned more than 10 times in a decade, and sometimes not at all.